Relates to the reacquisition of abandoned cemetery plots.
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the religious corporations law, in relation to the reacquisition of abandoned cemetery plots
To give religious cemetery corporations the same ability as not-for-profit cemetery corporations to obtain approval, under specific circumstances, to reacquire, re-subdivide and resell old lots, plots or parts thereof which are determined to be abandoned.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Adds a new Section 8-a to the Religious Corporations Law to allow a religious cemetery corporation - upon application to, and approval by, a Supreme Court - to reacquire, re-subdivide and resell a lot, plot or part thereof which is determined to be abandoned. Applications may be made in regard to lots and plots purchased more than 75 years ago if no burials have been made or if all the bodies have been lawfully removed and if neither the owners nor any person having a credible claim can be identified after a reasonable search. Specifies the steps to be taken in conducting a reasonable search. If a burial was made in such a lot more than 75 years ago, the corporation may apply to a Supreme Court to subdivide the lot or plot to create new graves.
Provides that the net proceeds of any sale shall be placed in a trust designated to provide future maintenance of the cemetery. Specifies reimbursement options in case an owner is subsequently identified. Provides that any monuments to be erected on any such lot shall conform to the size, style and type of monuments in that section of the cemetery.
This proposed law is very similar to Section 1513-a of the Not-for-Profit Corporations Law
In 2003, Section 1513-a of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law was enacted to give not-for-profit cemetery corporations the ability to reacquire and resell abandoned lots. In adopting this law, the State recognized that there were numerous instances where such cemeteries were filling to capacity and were facing questions and concerns about their continued financial viability. The reacquisition of these properties allows cemeteries to re-subdivide and resell the abandoned lots, thereby maximizing the use of their grounds and increasing their sustainability.
This bill would provide religious corporation cemeteries with the same ability as not-for-profit corporation cemeteries to reacquire abandoned cemetery lots. A religious cemetery, if not sustainable, produces a similar financial burden for its upkeep but, unlike a not-for-profit cemetery, such burden cannot be passed on to the local municipality and must be addressed by other funds. Supporting cemeteries which cannot generate additional revenue hurts other aspects of the religious entity's infrastructure and negatively impacts other efforts.
This bill would create in the Religious Corporations Law a similar ability to reacquire lots, plots, or parts thereof. Approval would have to be obtained from a State Supreme Court justice. A religious corporation cemetery must reasonably search appropriate records for any burials or owners of such lot, plot, or part thereof, and the bill prescribes under what circumstances a Supreme Court can approve reacquisition by a religious corporation cemetery. Any revenues obtained from such sales must be placed in a trust designated to provide future maintenance of the cemetery.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
S.5678 of 2013-14. Passed Senate in 2013
None to the State.
The thirtieth day after it shall have become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4920 2015-2016 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 23, 2015 ___________Introduced by Sen. FARLEY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions AN ACT to amend the religious corporations law, in relation to the reac- quisition of abandoned cemetery plots THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The religious corporations law is amended by adding a new section 8-a to read as follows: S 8-A. REACQUISITION OF A LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF BY A CEMETERY. A RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPORATION MAY, UPON APPLICATION AND APPROVAL BY A SUPREME COURT, REACQUIRE, RESUBDIVIDE, AND RESELL A LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF UNDER THE FOLLOWING CIRCUMSTANCES: (A)(I) IF THE RECORDS OF THE CORPORATION DEMONSTRATE THAT THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF WAS PURCHASED MORE THAN SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS PRIOR TO THE APPLICATION OF THE CORPORATION; AND (II) IF NO BURIALS HAVE BEEN MADE IN THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF OR ALL THE BODIES THEREIN HAVE BEEN LAWFULLY REMOVED; AND (III) IF NEITHER THE OWNER OR OWNERS OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF NOR ANY PERSON HAVING A CREDIBLE CLAIM TO OWNERSHIP WHO HAS VISITED, MADE PAYMENTS IN RESPECT OF OR ENGAGED IN ANY OTHER PROPRIETARY ACTIVITIES WITH RESPECT TO THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THER- EOF CAN BE IDENTIFIED AFTER A REASONABLE SEARCH CONDUCTED BY THE RELI- GIOUS CEMETERY CORPORATION, IT SHALL BE CONCLUSIVELY PRESUMED THAT THE OWNER OR OWNERS OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF HAVE ABANDONED THEIR BURIAL RIGHTS. A REASONABLE SEARCH CONSISTS OF A SEARCH OF: (1) ALL CEMETERY RECORDS TO DETERMINE THE NAME OF THE OWNER OR OWNERS OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF, THEIR LAST KNOWN ADDRESSES AND ALL INFORMA- TION AVAILABLE TO THE CEMETERY RELATING TO ANY PERSON BURIED IN THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF AND THE NAMES AND LAST KNOWN ADDRESSES OF ANY PERSONS MAKING INQUIRY ABOUT OR VISITING THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF; (2) A SEARCH FOR THE DEATH CERTIFICATES AND THE PROBATED WILLS OF THEEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD10588-01-5 S. 4920 2
OWNER OR OWNERS OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF; (3) THE POSTING OF NOTICE BY THE CEMETERY AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE CEMETERY AND IN THE CEME- TERY OFFICE, IF ANY, OF ITS INTENTION TO DECLARE THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF ABANDONED; (4) THE MAILING OF SUCH NOTICE CERTIFIED MAIL WITH RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED TO THE OWNER OR OWNERS OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF AND EACH PERSON IDENTIFIED DURING THE REASONABLE SEARCH AT THEIR LAST KNOWN ADDRESSES; (5) PUBLICATION OF SUCH NOTICE ONCE IN EACH WEEK FOR THREE SUCCESSIVE WEEKS, IN TWO NEWSPAPERS OF REGULAR COMMERCIAL CIRCULATION BY SUBSCRIPTION AND/OR NEWSSTAND SALE, TO BE DESIGNATED BY THE COUNTY CLERK OF THE COUNTY WHERE THE CEMETERY IS LOCATED WHICH IN HIS OR HER JUDGMENT, GIVEN THE ETHNIC, RELIGIOUS, GEOGRAPHIC OR OTHER RELATED DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OWNER OR OWNERS OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF AND EACH PERSON IDENTIFIED THROUGH THE REASONABLE SEARCH AND THE PREDOMINANT READERSHIP OF SUCH NEWSPAPERS ARE BEST CALCU- LATED TO INFORM THE OWNER OR OWNERS OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF AND EACH PERSON IDENTIFIED THROUGH THE REASONABLE SEARCH OF ANY APPLICATION PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION; AND (6) THE PREPARATION OF AN AFFIDAVIT DESCRIBING THE STEPS TAKEN BY THE RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPO- RATION TO ASCERTAIN THE IDENTITY OF AND TO CONTACT THE CURRENT OWNER OR OWNERS OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF OR NEXT-OF-KIN THEREOF OR ANY OTHER PERSONS IDENTIFIED IN THE COURSE OF THE REASONABLE SEARCH WHO MIGHT HAVE RELEVANT INFORMATION AND THE RESULTS OF SUCH STEPS. AFTER THE FILING WITH THE SUPREME COURT OF PROOF OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE ABOVE REQUIREMENTS IN FORM AND SUBSTANCE REASONABLY SATISFACTORY TO SUCH SUPREME COURT AND UPON APPROVAL BY THE SUPREME COURT, THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF MAY BE RESOLD BY THE CEMETERY TO ANY PARTY IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE CEMETERY RULES AND REGULATIONS PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT ANY MONUMENT SUBSEQUENTLY PLACED ON SUCH LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF SHALL CONFORM TO THE GENERAL APPEARANCE OF ANY EXISTING MONUMENTS IN SAID SECTION OF LOTS, PLOTS OR PARTS THEREOF, IF ANY. (B) IF (I) THE CIRCUMSTANCES DESCRIBED IN SUBDIVISION (A) OF THIS SECTION EXIST EXCEPT THAT ONE OR MORE BURIALS HAVE BEEN MADE IN A LOT, AND THE LAST BURIAL WAS MADE MORE THAN SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS PRIOR TO THE APPLICATION, (II) THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF CAN BE SUBDIVIDED TO CREATE NEW GRAVES, (III) THE BODIES HAVE NOT BEEN LAWFULLY REMOVED, AND (IV) THE CEMETERY SUBMITS AN APPLICATION TO THE SUPREME COURT WHICH COMPLIES WITH THE REQUIREMENTS SET FORTH IN SUBDIVISION (A) OF THIS SECTION, IT SHALL BE CONCLUSIVELY PRESUMED THAT THE LOT OWNER HAS ABAN- DONED THE RIGHT TO MAKE FURTHER BURIALS IN THE LOT, THE LOT MAY BE SUBDIVIDED, AND THE RESUBDIVIDED LOT, PLOT OR PARTS THEREOF WHICH DO NOT CONTAIN THE REMAINS OF THE DECEASED PERSONS MAY BE RESOLD BY THE RELI- GIOUS CEMETERY CORPORATION AS PROVIDED IN THIS SECTION. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL PERMIT A RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPORATION TO DECLARE ABAN- DONED A LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF, WHERE SUCH LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF WAS PURCHASED FOR MULTIPLE DEPTH BURIALS AND WHERE ONE OR MORE BURIALS HAS OCCURRED OR AUTHORIZED A RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPORATION TO REMOVE A MONUMENT OR OTHER EMBELLISHMENT TO FACILITATE THE RESALE OF SUCH LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF. (C) IF THE OWNER OR OWNERS OF A LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF CAN BE IDEN- TIFIED, THE RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPORATION, WITH THE CONSENT OF THE OWNER OR OWNERS OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF, THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF MAY BE RESUBDIVIDED, AND THE RESUBDIVIDED LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF WHICH DOES NOT CONTAIN THE REMAINS OF DECEASED PERSONS MAY BE RESOLD BY THE RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPORATION, PROVIDED, HOWEVER, IF NO BURIAL HAS BEEN MADE IN THE LOT, PLOT OR PART HEREOF, IN THE TWENTY-FIVE YEAR PERIOD PRECEDING SUCH APPLICATION, THE OWNER OF A LOT, PLOT OR PARTS. 4920 3
THEREOF HAS NOTIFIED HIS OR HER PARENTS, SPOUSE, ISSUE, BROTHERS, SISTERS, GRANDPARENTS, AND GRANDCHILDREN, IF ANY, OF THE APPLICATION TO THE SUPREME COURT, AND PROVIDED FURTHER, HOWEVER, IF A BURIAL HAS BEEN MADE IN THIS LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF DURING SUCH TWENTY-FIVE YEAR PERIOD, THE SPOUSE AND ISSUE OF SUCH DECEASED PERSON ARE ALSO NOTIFIED, AND PROVIDED FURTHER, IN EITHER CASE THE OWNER OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF SATISFIES THE SUPREME COURT THAT NONE OF THE PERSONS NOTIFIED HAVE AGREED WITHIN FORTY-FIVE DAYS OF NOTIFICATION TO PURCHASE THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF AT THE PRICE WHICH THE RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPO- RATION SHALL CERTIFY UNDER PENALTY OF LAW SHALL BE THE PRICE AT WHICH THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF SHALL BE SOLD FOR AFTER REACQUISITION. (D) UPON THE SALE OF A LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF REACQUIRED BY A RELI- GIOUS CEMETERY CORPORATION UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SUBDIVISION (A), (B), OR (C) OF THIS SECTION, THE NET PROCEEDS SHALL BE PLACED IN A TRUST DESIGNATED TO PROVIDE FUTURE MAINTENANCE OF THE CEMETERY. (E) IF THE OWNER OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF IS SUBSEQUENTLY IDENTIFIED, THE RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPORATION SHALL: (I) RETURN ALL UNSOLD LOTS, PLOTS OR PARTS THEREOF IF ANY, TO THE OWNER IF SO REQUESTED; AND (II) WITH RESPECT TO ANY LOTS, PLOTS OR PARTS THEREOF THAT HAVE BEEN SOLD PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION, AT THE OPTION OF THE OWNER OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF, EITHER (1) PROVIDE THE OWNER, AT NO COST TO THE OWNER, WITH A LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF COMPARABLE TO ANY LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF THAT WAS SOLD BY THE RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPO- RATION OR (2) PROVIDE THE OWNER WITH THE PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE OF THE LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF REACQUIRED UNDER THIS SECTION WITH INTEREST THEREON FROM THE DATE OF THE SALE AT SIX PERCENT PER ANNUM. (F) MONUMENTS TO BE ERECTED ON A LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF, FOLLOWING THE RESALE OF A LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF, SHALL CONFORM TO THE RULES AND REGULATIONS OR OTHER REQUIREMENTS OF THE RELIGIOUS CEMETERY CORPO- RATION AND SHALL CONFORM TO THE SIZE, STYLE, AND TYPE OF MONUMENTS IN THE SECTION OF THE CEMETERY WHERE SUCH RESALE OCCURS. S 2. This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have become a law.